Igbo Union Pioneers: M.I. Okpara (L) and Nnamdi Azikiwe (C) at a political rally, 1959. Michael Iheonukara Okpara was born in Umuahia, a political leader and Premier of Eastern Nigeria during the First Republic from 1959 to 1966. Okpara attended the Uzuakoli Methodist College, where he won a scholarship to study medicine at Yaba Higher College, Lagos. Completing his medical studies at the Nigerian School of Medicine, he worked briefly as a government medical officer in Lagos before returning to Umuahia to set up a private practice. After the Pogrom and Biafra War, Okpara lived in Ireland, on exile, until his return in 1979. He died December 17, 1984. Nnamdi Azikiwe was born in Zungeru, a political leader and was Nigeria's last Governor-General from 1960 to 1963 and the first president from 1963 to 1966. He was the father of modern Nigeria nationalism. Zik attended Hope Wadell Training Institute, Calabar, and Methodist Boys' High School Lagos, then to the United States securing admission at Howard University in Washington, D.C. He would enroll at Lincoln University, Pennsylvania obtaining degrees in Religion and Anthropology. He worked as an instructor at Lincoln before returning to Nigeria. Upon returning to Nigeria, he founded the West African Pilot, in 1934, using it as an effective tool to fight the British Colonial administrators in the region. He died May 11, 1996 at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu. Image Courtesy of the Nigeria Nostalgia Project.
There is no single day that passes by Igbo presidency, and its timing, and rightfully placed spot, of electing an Igbo president is not mentioned in the nation's tabloid journalism, in essays, commentaries on a variety of airwaves, beer parlors' usual crackpot intoxicating effects, social gatherings, informal debates, Igbo related forums, local political membership clubs, and any forum identified with the Igbo, and how the danger poses a wide range of problems resulting from the Igbo still not aware of the political play attracting such conventions, while the power brokers and ruling elites of the Fulani Caliphate oligarchical class watch gleefully how it should be unfolding, and how the shots would be called, and its design, and the players, regardless of background, and eventually, when stamped as done deal on its final call by the caliphates, knowing an Igbo president is still a mirage, and would continue to be a mirage until the caliphate oligarchical class gets saturated with the Nigerian enterprise. Igbo president of an entrapped nation state doesn't exist. It just won't happen.
And we are not too far from memory in our experiences of how we've been thrown around in what happened to have originated by the pragmatic Igbo and his men of industry, I have mentioned times without number; and another familiar case of Goodluck Jonathan I had made clear his presidency represented the Igbo spot, and was an "Army Arrangement" plot, organized by the Fulani Caliphates and their collaborators.
The caliphate has never encountered any problem in its platform to determine who should be assigned a slot and what circumstances calls for it's implementation, and at what given time, whenever the quest for the presidency becomes a hot topic on what particular tribe gets the merit, from its political standings and waiting time, especially the Igbo, in her elusive game, from the moment a nation was fabricated, even when a political party is not sure of its slot and how the propaganda works in a crumbling, dictatorial, democracy like Nigeria.
The Igbo extraction of the entrapment is subjected to present not only who had been passive in mind, and actions, but a representative of the status quo, to feed from the crumbs of the caliphate and run out to the public square and applaud their captors on becoming conducts and get more access to the leftovers that had given them life, which has been the situation of alleged Igbo presidency, since the military juntas left, and after the junta, Abdulsalami Abubakar's indoctrination to guide the 4th Republic, was used, which remains valid on the floor of an inconsequential, inept and corrupt National Assembly. A National Assembly without clue what democracy stood for and the foundations that kept it intact and viable. A lawless place, legislated by imbeciles and corrupt and criminal masterminds.
The irony of all the events surrounding Nigeria's political plays following the apparent bad regimes in a civilian order, kidnappings begun anew, frequent assassinations, religious leaders partake and influence in government, press censorship and imprisonment of journalists, military institutions still enforcing decrees on roadblocks, series of Human Rights violations, police forces forced to abandon the implementation of the rules to set up criminal enterprises, in a society that dramatically welcomes a state of empire and anarchy, while the United States and the West, looks the other way round. Proper governance and democracy itself has been jeopardized. This is the present situation Nigeria finds itself, and comfortable enough, the population seems to be fine with it.
In as much as the interest sounds very much political and affiliation with the ruling elite, and a scramble to favor the caliphate oligarchical class, and the directives that sees the control of power, having nothing to do with its democratic proceedings and standard of a democratic fabric, by way of its constitution determining the outcome, and not by political party principles, then they can be assured the playing field has never been leveled in their favor, but on the benefit of the caliphate even when they are not running the affairs of state, giving the agitators reason to put their demand into perspective, and on their own very interest and, heavily relying on "nku ukwa igba n'Abuja," ballooning like fat cats, often a trend and remark for social economic status, used as machinery to intimidate others.
And we must not forget to bear in mind that before anything political of a nation-state ever surfaced, Igbo had kept its republican ideals applicable and complete, upholding its rule of customary laws through organized representation and rules that governs it. And upon creation of the Igbo Union, all had been concretely sustained following profound leadership with no social contract. But that order would be hijacked not because a better and more progressive options had been obtained, but a people so unique in its tradition and cultural heritage would fall apart, entirely from its standard; for instance, the jumbled and bellicose World Igbo Congress, the WIC, acclaimed Igbo umbrella, the elitist Ohanaeze Nd'Igbo, the ego-tripping Igbo Cultural Association of Nigeria-Dallas/Forth Worth, the do-nothing Igbo Cultural Association of Southern California, Owerri Progressive Union, Owerri Peoples Union, Anambra State Association, Imo State Congress, Old Orlu Province Association, Igbo Mandate Union and the list goes on, and on, of organizations without effective tools and couldn't come up with anything substantial and credible in time of its challenges.
And, on the social landscape toward organizational effectiveness: the women social club and its watch on preserving Omenala Igbo, rules of engagement and Igbo cultural heritage, Anaedo Social Club, Peoples Club of Nigeria, etc, with a barrage of confusion showing nothing else but flamboyance of its outfits, swaggering around at any picnic, a commonplace thing right now, when these organizations should be engaging in serious stuff, keeping the fundamentals of its forebears whole.
From how it was said to have begun in what had been new era of a peoples' fate, almost forgotten until the ideal of an indivisible, national states, emerges, recognizing the values of freedom in every of its discipline, and justice to keep an upcoming republic intact and viable; after the military juntas had ruined the state in its entirety, raping the treasury empty and topping it off by destroying all aspects of civil liberties, for a very long time in their stay with absolute power, which left the civilian population permanently disfigured.
Upon all that, there was high expectations that the coming republic would learn a lot of lessons from its past, deriving nothing in what had gone wrong over the years from a bunch of power holding juntas, that came out of the military barracks with their guns, when what had generated political discourses and formation of political parties to engage in political maneuvers, in another experiment seeking what would be a more credible, elected president than previously held, looked very much like a fix by the juntas who had disguised its order, joined and headed the civilian structure.
It was not to be; the handlers who were still fragments of the same juntas that used their impunity, the barrels of the gun, to decide how the country should be ruled, drawing their map and positioning their pick at the nation's critical time and the dire need for good governance, still called all the shots until it was all over, with a stamp, in continuity; as they sneaked in their own, the election of Olusegun Obasanjo, to begin the 4th Republic after almost every option had been exhausted, and, after the civilian population was yet to recover from its state of comatose, from the brutal beatings by the military juntas. The civilian structure never recovered.
And with all that badly beat up vulnerable Igbo elite and political junkies, permanently battered, and not much that they could do but go with the "flow" on the juntas' terms and agree on whatever that had been made available as the case had been; even though they could have done much, much better to reject what the juntas had doctored as available document, representing the peoples constitution.
But then, and again, to be sure, on who would be elected president of another experiment of a republic supervised by the juntas who had added clauses in their favor, leaving a population without choices, to have the ultimate right in rejecting such fabricated constitution for an 'authentic' one, a written document prepared on the consent of the people and endorsed on its behalf by the delegates representing their districts, their wards, their zones, etc. and as the case may be, to put in place a constitution that is totally endorsed by the people, of their consent. It's just as simple as that, and that's how a normal democracy functions. But the Nigerian national state had been dogged by the juntas which still plays till today as the constitution they fabricated is the one still used in the National Assembly.
It never went that way, to follow the guidelines of democratic principles, respecting the rule of law and upholding its democratic constitution written from a perspective of the peoples mandate. What the juntas had done was, in observing how critical, how gullible and how vulnerable a battered population had been subjected to, having not much of a choice at the time of said transition a convicted erstwhile military junta who had come close to death out of nowhere within the nations political arena, was revived and in a 180 degrees turn, became the party's flag bearer, pushing aside one that had founded the committee of friends and its political action committee, and groups to initiate throughout its explorations what would be the Peoples Democratic Party, the PDP and its blueprint to guide its political process.
What had not been considered by the people was their political stupidity and the inability not to have resented and declined to any form of platform in transition as prescribed by the band of military juntas who are still in their presence today, challenging them with the "in-your-face" attitude that we own the power, and would always, since you couldn't get your acts together, with more factual instances of a sitting president, who hates free speech and was once a dictator and a murderous lot, and his colleague who begun the 4th Republic under the auspices of their arrangements in a following order, succinctly described by the Chief Priest Fela Kuti, in one of his protest songs, "Army Arrangement."
What is more ironic is a civilian population that had been permanently subdued and lost every sense of purpose and belonging to situate itself, and be able to call the shots on behalf of the people. That challenge surfaced when former military junta, Obasanjo, had mistakenly assumed he had a puppet he'd rubber stamped to follow his orders. It backfired and an alternative was desperately needed to quiet a standby "barrels of the gun," as former junta, Muhammadu Buhari, was suggested to end a nightmare and deprivation to the bunch of military juntas who just couldn't take it anymore in order to restore its cultural norm.
And while the entire mess was allowed to go on and unchecked, a set of people, an ethnic group of the nation's major stock were caught in between making up their mind, knowing exactly what it demands on grounds of national leadership and the current trend it should follow, and having what it took to pursue its cause, and its rightful place on national standing which had long been dragged from colonial times until this present day, the possibilities now bears the same resemblance of the Biblical camel passing through the eye of a needle than a sinner to be admitted into God's Kingdom.
The 4th republic had made nonsense of democracy to which the civilian population should have adhered to, the power belonging to the people on the grounds and the ideal that the military institutions were meant to defend the nation's territories on the orders of the commander-in-chief, who by all accounts is the nation's chief executive to decide when it's appropriate and adequate to declare war against enemies of the state.
But as we tend to soon forget, the origins of a fabricated national state on which the colonists established nations that had nothing in common, as they did in the Balkans, the Ottoman Empire and elsewhere, directing its leadership and the nationals in question left without much choices as the quest and the need to be free became what was vital to survival and the escape from bondage, using the tribal leaders in its experiment which had suggested its genuine mandate while they, the colonists, gave all the directives, dictating how a freed nation should run its affairs of state. As it had also happened, prior before its freedom, its tribal leaders had never gotten along, an apparent indication it had not meant to be, and what was bound to take effect was mistakenly agreed upon, perhaps on the probabilities a sense of place and oneness would be understood to situate the nations accordingly.
In what had occurred during the constitutional conferences, the tribal leaders from a colonial observation had been carved out from three ethnic groups as key-point to sustaining what would be its democracy, while the ethnic minorities, not given a shot and recognized, were trapped in the midst of the three major ethnic groups--Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa--and couldn't play any significant role in the formation of the republic as independently engaged, but on the sidelines which erupted the agitation for self reliance. It was not until some of the ethnic minorities had begun to make their presence known, through series of its agitations, and the need for them to go their separate ways, that the colonial administrators gave it a thought, starting with the Willink Commission and the grievances of the ethnic minorities in their requests for plebiscites, with concerns on the Ibibio, Annangs, Ijaw, Ogoni and the rest of the tribal creeks and inhabitants in the woods of the Niger-Delta, even though tribal politics and ethnic interests had already emerged.
The Midwest, however, was carved out, eventually, with a widespread Igbo speaking population, including the Isokos, Urhobos, Ijaws, Itsekiris and others from what was originally Western Region, sustaining its reliance of state and share of the nation's revenue formula derived mainly from oil production. At the time of these political and power plays, the House of the Caliphate, up north in the nation's landscape, ran the affairs of state on the basis of higher figures, on democratic terms, while the southern leaders squabbled over political supremacy, as the confusion was established and never stopped, and no longer hidden that the nation was wrongly carved--a contraption.
The three ethnic leaders in what had become a tradition in the nation's political landscape, and the Igbo being the front runner toward the initiative from establishing the Igbo Union in respect to its republican ideals which propped up free thinking individuals while the colonial administrators decided what should matter and the obligations of controlling the state, empowering the northern elites to dog an entire nation in all cases that may arise, sharing currency with monarchy and where power should belong while the Zikist and Awoist movements looked and picked up quarrels among each other, creating the divide and hatred that stands till today in Southern Nigeria.
The ethnic rivalries--Nnamdi Azikiwe and Obafemi Awolowo--of the Igbo and Yoruba stock, had better ideas but were not tactical and had lacked the vision to have rejected any referendum in the fabrication of a nation state that would be Nigeria, knowing too well from their experiences the implications of agreeing on the terms of the colonial administrators to form a union while both had accused each other of tribalism and "master-racing," which Awolowo had earlier accused the Zikist Movement, feeling the threats of Igbo supremacy.
But a look at how it all began. Igbo had no parallel upon the race, when the colonial administrators saw a band of multiple contestants gearing for a fabricated national leadership as the colonists wanted it, to keep what had been intentionally deceitful, together and "progressive", to their own advantage. Nevertheless, the Igbo had worked so hard, and had been diligent to produce the fronntiersmen, leaders who had committed themselves to sustain a profound Igbo nationhood. The task was arduous. The commitment was honest. The roles were significant and expectations, very high. There were political disagreements but the notion was a mark of collectivity, which ultimately leads to utopia. There were factions and cultural deviations relating to its conduct. The ideal was phenomenal and the purpose, becoming and, for Igbo common good, which was achieved before the colonial administrators hijacked the moments.
The best Igbo minds had assembled on a variety of discipline in meetings, and in different locations, and no substitute could be compared to their hard work: Nnamdi Azikiwe, Kingsley Mbadiwe, Mbonu Ojike, M. I. Okpara, Nwafor Orizu, Louis Mbanefo, Francis Akanu Ibiam, Gogo Chu Nzeribe, Dennis Osadebay, Okeke Ojiudu, Francis Akanu Ibiam, Jaja Wachukwu, Josiah Okezie, Louis N. Obioha, Louis Ojukwu, Alvan Ikoku, Okechukwu Ikejiani, the thoughtful laymen and as the list goes on and on, not to mention the haul of scholars--Chinua Achebe, John Munonye, Kenneth Dike, and others, and the ideal these Igbo pioneers had left as legacy was easily wiped out from the political stupidity of those the mantle had been enthroned while confronted by a machinery that wants the Igbo indefinitely lowered in status. And of course, that machinery succeeded, in every of its applications to permanently paralyze the Igbo for good.
What erupted then after, regarding effective and sound following, was tragic with a trace to what had ended the Pogrom and the Biafran War. The dramatic changes of the foundations showed no sympathy. It was total with ominous consequences and, the Igbo would be victim of an experiment begun by the colonial administrators. And henceforth, a population that had been meant to continue and move on with an overwhelming national wealth derived from oil production and a buoyant human capital, and a 'Reconstruction' tailored to heal the battle wounds, would make a sudden 90 degrees turn, while comfortable with its operations--giving the military juntas and vandals every permission to do whatever they liked from credits of plundering and demolishing Biafra.
The military would take it and promulgate decrees to quiet a politically impotent civil society, censoring its vibrant press while they kept funny books, giving no accounts of its regime and exercising power on a turn-by-turn basis, one junta after another, raping the nation's treasury without questions asked, slamming the civilians too vocal by challenging their authority; and by the time they were saturated and done, the civilian population and its structure had been disfigured perpetually. Such is the case today as the juntas and its 'northern ruling elites' maintain the status quo.
Did I not say it, that Igbo will not be president of Nigeria because they have never been prepared when the testings takes real form and that, the usual nasty political play would hinder it? And the simple truth, that the Igbo lost every sense of belonging and purpose, to establish a profound leadership?
Have I not been writing over the years about the confused bunch of Igbos who walk our political corridors as leaders? Have I not said it over and over again that Nd'Igbo are misguided on the grounds of lacking a true, authentic leadership?
Didn't I point it out in their face, on many occasions, at community meetings, conventions and related events, that save for the usual picnic, which they should be given credit, that nothing could be said of its accomplishments since Yakubu Gowon's-led genocidal campaign against the Igbo nation, from around which they adopted the platforms and outfits of their haters, the bigots who had wanted them wiped out from the face of this planet?
When I had told the confused and oftentimes infallible Igbo bunch that they need to rethink their strategies toward effecting change in Ala-Igbo, did they not haggle rather than tackle and seek resolve on a heap of problems like in Ode Mkpishi Chinua Achebe's story line of a man who had abandoned his burning house to chase the rat fleeing from the flames?
On its national programs to create and develop a chain of related media in terms of an engaging propaganda tool, and in tune with Igbo political and, cultural ideals, thus a standard newspaper, journal, newsletters, consistent editorials and things like that, in order to stay in business and face the challenges of feasible communication and effective press, and that, nothing really would matter if Igbo stubbornly and deliberately fails to stand out with its own independent newspaper covered by its own variety of editors, staff and writers which would put meaning into the Igbo subject.
Did I not mention that in numerous occasions and entirely worn out, that the celebrated Igbo writers were a bunch pursuing their own personal interest and reason why they had sealed their lips so as not to jeopardize their chances while they play to the gallery alongside their enemies who would attack and destroy them, and nothing would happen other than a people whose history had been of administrative and political impotence to take the choice of being pacific?
When I had written the series of pieces about the Igbo presidency and debates that had followed over the years including related symposiums once conducted at Igbo Forum, was I not said to be writing to put a monkey wrench into Igbo matters and the presidency I had no "authority" on?
And following that, and putting every other thing into outlook of things, did I not with distress, when militants of other ethnic backgrounds were gunning down their targets, causing all kinds of havoc, threatening the security of the state and yet allowed to go scot-free, while MASSOB leader Ralph Uwazuruike was locked up and never given a chance to be released, and why "Igbo leaders" sat idly and watched Ganiyu Adams, Frederick Fasheun and Asari Dokubo make deals with the federal biased authority; and would be let go unconditionally while Uwazuruike was permanently shut and isolated in the gulag, question a do-nothing Igbo leadership on what explains their keeping a tight lip?
When Igbo leaders of thought, wherever they were, upon reaching decisions for a permanent burial ground for the Biafran heroes and nobody had wanted to be seen as leading the cause, Orji Uzor Kalu, then governor of Abia State, who took the challenge and allowed Umuahia as the last resort when a designated Uli was declined by Chinwoke Clement Mbadinuju because of threats he received from "I dey Kampe" Obasanjo, did I not applaud Kalu and praised his doctrine?: "Orji Kalu, Leadership And Igbos Political Future," even though said piece was widely distributed on the web, did Igbo not accuse me of writing for foreign news organizations and later brought forth by Kevin Ani, that I should be engineering Igbo paper?
Upon Muhammadu Buhari's series of attempts at the presidency, the Igbo were still stuck with their right of place to the presidency and a raging debate with all the viewpoints basically the same, saturating the papers with boredom as the substance of the debates about Igbo and the presidency waned. A "right of place", if Igbo had been strategically consistent in its persuasion as one entity and not the political plays that divided its motive, they would by now reached a point where they'd had no need for the presidency as they'd be controlling every aspect of the economy with its manpower, intellectual power house and political clout.
But on a case of sad reality, here we are again, on a presidential election Igbo played no major role in determining who should be elected while the otimkpus, the alarmists, on the beat and how they understood the Igbo situation and politics in Nigeria never stopped making noise in their engagements to seek relevance.
Igbo has more to worry about in its quest for the common good on what surrounds them than agitation for a presidency slot that would continue to keep them divided without one voice.
A scene outside the Eastern Region House of Assembly at Enugu with crowds watching an investiture ceremony when regional states influenced its independent powers and made decisions without federal character. Circa 1960